The classical music world loves its anniversaries. Last year's big one was Richard Strauss' 150th. In 2015,the honor goes to another late-Romantic master: Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). The great Finnish composer's music isn't heard all that often on Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra programs. That situation changes this week, with two Sibelius works on the bill. Concertmaster Juliana Athayde offers Sibelius' Violin Concerto, preceded by "Lemminkainen's Return," this composer's tone poem based on the adventures of a hero of Norse mythology. Both are prime Sibelius: melodious, passionate music that is also dark, mysterious, and to quote the RPO's on-target description, "icily romantic." These fascinating works will be conducted by Yoav Talmi (pictured), who will also lead another of the indestructible nationalistic items of the repertory, Dvorak's "New World" Symphony.
The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra plays Sibelius and Dvorak on Thursday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, May 23, at 8 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 60 Gibbs Street. $16-$92. rpo.org.